The 2016 Toyota Mirai, world’s first production hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, will arrive in California and Japan dealers by the second half of 2015, along with a special perk, free hydrogen fuel for the duration of the lease!
While none of the technologies in the Mirai are particularly new, Toyota put them together in a way that have never been seen in the automotive industry. Like plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, the Toyota Mirai is equipped with a NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) battery pack, CHAdeMO fast-charging coupler, and electric motor-generators.
The similarities between PHEVs and HFCVs (hydrogen fuel cell vehicles) end there, however, since the car doesn’t have an internal combustion engine and liquid fuel tank. Instead, the main energy source is provided by the hydrogen fuel cell, which combines onboard hydrogen fuel with atmospheric oxygen. The result is water vapor and electricity, which is used to power vehicle systems and move the vehicle.
The Toyota Mirai’s 5 kg hydrogen fuel tank gives the car a range of about 300 miles, about the same as the 85 kWh Tesla Model S. Unlike the Tesla Model S 85 kWh BEV (battery electric vehicle), The Toyota Mirai requires minutes to fill its tanks with hydrogen fuel. There is one caveat, however, much the same as experienced by early adopters of BEV technology, the lack of abundant recharging stations, so the first hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will go where the infrastructure is strongest, Japan and California, specifically.
Two interesting facets of note come to mind with regards to the unique hydrogen fuel cell powertrain in the Toyota Mirai. Like BEVs, the it generates no emissions on its own, but can be calculated based on fuel source. If generated by renewable energy sources, hydrogen fuel cell vehicle emissions are significantly reduced. Also, like PHEVs with V2B (vehicle-to-building) capabilities, the four-door sedan can provide up to 60 kWh of power to a home or office, via the CHAdeMO connector in the trunk. A 100 VAC 1500 W accessory socket is also available for direct connection to the DC-AC converter.
Finally, good news for new Toyota Mirai owners, as they won’t have to worry about how much a tank of hydrogen fuel costs. Toyota will provide a fuel subsidy of about $2,500 per year for the first three years of the lease. Assuming $50 per fillup, at $10/kg H2, and an estimated 300-mile range, that’s about 45,000 miles of free driving!